James Gordon (Canadian musician)

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James Gordon
James Gordon 1 (Hillside 2008).jpg
James Gordon performing at the Hillside Festival, which he co-founded in 1984.
Residence Guelph, Ontario
Occupation singer-songwriter
Known for Tamarack, "Frobisher Bay", Hillside Festival
Spouse(s) Val Morse
Children Evan Gordon, Geordie Gordon
Website http://www.jamesgordon.ca

James Gordon is a Canadian singer-songwriter, known as a founding member of Tamarack.[1] He has also released more than 20 solo albums.

Musical career[edit]

As a prolific songwriter, James Gordon is known for such diverse songs as "Sweaters for Penguins" and "Frobisher Bay".[2]

He wrote the weekly song for the CBC Radio program Basic Black. He is proficient on a variety of instruments including guitar, piano, banjo and mandola.[3]

He has toured internationally in North America, the British Isles, Southeast Asia, and Cuba.[4]

His songs have been covered by other musical artists such as the Cowboy Junkies ("Mining for Gold") and Melanie Doane.

He is a co-founder of Guelph's annual Hillside Festival and was its first creative director, from 1985 to 1988.[5][6] He also founded (and was the artistic director of) the Canadian Songwriters' Festival,[5] and was a board member of the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals. Gordon is active in arts-, civics-, and environment-related causes in the Guelph region, for which he was given the Guelph Mayor's Award in 2008.[5]



He was the candidate for the Ontario New Democratic Party in the riding of Guelph in the 2011 Ontario provincial election but lost to incumbent Liz Sandals.[7] He ran again in 2014 but once again lost to Liz Sandals.


James Gordon threw his hat in the ring[8] for Ward Two City Councillor in the city of Guelph, Ontario in the October 27, 2014 Guelph municipal election. Gordon was elected to serve alongside Andy Van Hellemond and plans to continue his activist pursuits[9] such as touring his one-man show, "Stephen Harper: The Musical"[10]



James Gordon performing at Hillside Festival in 2008. His sons, Evan and Geordie, are behind him.
  • Au Canada (1980)
  • Wind River
  • Spirit & Stone
  • 13
  • Fields of Rock and Snow (1993)
  • Frobisher Bay (1993)
  • Leaving Inverarden (1995)
  • Blankets of Snow (1998)

Solo recordings[edit]

  • Looking for Livingstone (1987)
  • Farther Along (1991)
  • Hometown Tunes (1994)
  • Dim Lights, Small City (1995)
  • More Hometown Tunes (1997)
  • Pipe Street Dreams (1999)
  • Mining for Gold: Twenty Years of Songwriting (2002)
  • Tune Cooties (2002)
  • One Timeless Moment (2003)
  • Endomusia (2004), includes "Weapons of Mass Instruction"
  • Nine Green Bottles (2007), includes "Casey Sheehan Didn't Die for Nothing", credited to James Gordon and Sons
  • My Stars Your Eyes (2009)
  • Coyote's Calling (2013), includes "Jack's Dream"

Folk operas (musicals)[edit]

James Gordon performing at Hillside Festival in 2008.

James Gordon used to perform with David Archibald as "Jane & Dave", producing family-oriented musicals.

  • Jane & Dave's Awesome Environmental Adventure (1990)
  • Jane & Dave's Awesome Search for the Golden Toad (1992)
  • Jane & Dave's Awesome Supernatural Camping Adventure (1993)

More recently, his work includes:

  • Hardscrabble Road (2003)
  • Two Steps and a Glass of Water (2005), which deals with mental illness and health, also a film by Glenn Curtis [11]
  • Tryst and Snout (2007)[12]
  • Stephen Harper: The Musical (2013)[13]


  • "Mining for Gold" on the soundtrack of the film Silver City (2004)
  • Two Steps and a Glass of Water